Fifteen-years-ago in a cool October month, a quiet and unassuming but bright civil service aspirant from Mumbai took home the biggest jackpot on offer in Indian television history. He was Harshwardhan Nawathe – the first crorepati of Kaun Banega Crorepati.
All of 27 at the time, Nawathe, the son of an IPS officer, became a rock star overnight. He says that while congratulating him on his win, Amitabh Bachchan had said that his life was about to change.
Indeed, autograph hunters followed him, parties were thrown in his honour, everyone wanted him as their son-in-law; practically, he was a star.
But it was because of this stardom that he could not appear for his civil service exams.
“I lost my focus and didn’t take the civil services’ exam.”
He knew he wouldn’t be able to focus on his career while living the life of a celebrity. So, he used his money to pursue MBA from Edinburgh Napier University, Scotland.
After his return to Mumbai, Nawathe joined IL&FS, a financial service company, in November 2005. He became the state director of Naandi Foundation in April 2007 before becoming the COO of Naandi Community Water Services in November 2009.
According to his LinkedIn profile, Nawathe joined Mahindra & Mahindra in March 2012, where he now works as Head of CSR and Ethics, Auto and Farm Equipment sector.
Nawathe has only fond memories of that day in October when he won the jackpot amount of Rs.1 crore.
He says that for the 10 days after his win, KBC staff put him up in a hotel under an alias. He was provided 24-hour security for the duration. This was done to ensure that the name of the winner is not revealed before the telecast of the event. (There was a gap of 10 days between shooting and telecast.)
Nawathe is now a married man with two children. His wife, Sarika, was a TV actress working in Marathi soap operas.
The life of Harshvardhan Nawathe makes for an incredible story in itself. The brilliant mind that helped him win the country’s most popular game show in TV history also helped him stay grounded and not squander everything away like Sushil Kumar.